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Getting ready to sign a prenup? Read this first

Some people avoid all discussion regarding prenuptial agreements for fear that their intended spouses may find them highly unromantic. However, many Arizona residents are among those in other states who understand that such agreements can, in fact, strengthen a marital bond because signing one makes both parties feel confident and secure that his or her best interests are a central focus of the relationship.

If you're preparing to sign a prenup, it is critical that you understand state laws governing such issues. Of equal importance is making sure you clearly understand the terms of your proposed agreement. Perhaps your parents or another adult taught you never to sign anything you don't understand. This is particularly sage advice when it comes to prenuptial agreements, as adding your signature without clearly understanding contractual terms can lead to serious legal problems down the line.

Asset protection is a main goal

If you own a business or other asset that you wish to keep separated from assets you will acquire during marriage, you can more than likely retain separate ownership by including it in the terms of your prenuptial contract. Another means to help protect assets if your marriage ends in divorce, is to specify terms of alimony or spousal support in a prenuptial agreement. Discussion of financial matters is a main component of prenuptial negotiations.

Stay off the hook for liabilities

Not only can a prenuptial agreement protect separate ownership of a particular asset, you can also assign debt liability to one or the other spouse, as well. If you don't want to end up stuck paying for your spouse's college loan debt, a prenup is a valuable tool you can use to avoid it.

Make sure your contract is enforceable

An Arizona judge overseeing your case will typically check for three things when determining whether your prenuptial agreement is enforceable. If the court believes someone signed a prenup under coercion, it may rule the document invalid. A judge can refuse to enforce a particular clause in a prenuptial agreement or can reject an entire contract.

Most courts will consider your agreement enforceable provided the terms do not violate any public policy, no signs of coercion are present and you and your spouse entered into the contract on fair and agreeable terms. One of the easiest ways to make sure your contract is viable is to ask an experienced family law attorney to review it before signing.

Things to do and things to avoid

If you and your intended spouse agree to incorporate a prenuptial agreement into your pre-wedding plans, you'll want to set aside time to discuss all pertinent issues one by one so you don't leave any stone unturned. If you feel pressured into signing something you aren't comfortable with, it is best to withhold your signature unless and until you obtain guidance that alleviates your concerns.

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